The first and most important step towards developing a six pack is to lose weight. The rationale behind the weight loss is that the abdominal muscles will not show unless the ideal muscle to fat ratio is reached.
The two most effective forms of exercise for losing weight are weight lifting and cardio exercises.
Weight Lifting: Lifting weights will result in a decrease in the development of fat by the body.
Lifting weights will result in an increase in muscle; the more muscle a body has the more energy it is capable of burning.
Extra energy in the body is consequently stored as fat; for this reason, building extra muscle in the body will ensure that this extra energy is utilized and prevented from turning to fat.
The most effective muscles to work on are larger muscles groups such as thighs, hamstrings, back and the chest; as these are larger muscles they will consequently burn larger amount of energy in order to sustain themselves.
Cardio exercises: One of the most common and popular forms of exercise, cardio is a great way to lose weight as it is capable of utilizing fat stores for energy and preventing excess energy form being stored as fat.
By staying in motion for an extended period of time, your body is capable of utilizing glucose stores for energy, and then moving on to utilize fat stores for energy.
Suitable cardio exercises include running, power walking, swimming, cycling, basketball, soccer, tennis or any other exercise or sport that involves continuous movement for an extended period of time.
Some of the most popular forms of cardio exercise are as follows:
1) Running: running is extremely popular as it does not require any particular equipment and can be done virtually anywhere. Running can burn a significant amount of energy, however it can cause discomfort to certain joints such as knees and ankles.
2) Cycling: Cycling can be performed outdoors (on a bicycle) or inside (on a cycling machine) and requires use of the legs in order to burn energy.
3) Swimming: Swimming is a full body exercise and the more body parts that are involved the more energy this exercise is capable of burning. Thirty minutes of an intensive stroke such as breaststroke is capable of burning more energy than thirty minutes of running. One of the benefits of swimming is that it allows for joints to be fully supported, thus preventing the joint damage that can occur through running.
4) Step Aerobics: This involves an intense workout for the legs, buttocks and hips and burns around the same amount of energy as swimming. This form of exercise is available in video or in a class; therefore it is able to be performed at home or in the gym.
5) Elliptical trainer: For those with gym access, or who are lucky enough to own one of these machines, the elliptical trainer will burn energy whilst protecting joints from injury due to impact activities.
6) Power walking: Brisk walking is an excellent form of exercise. Whilst it may not burn off as much energy as running, it will minimize the extent of damage to joints done through impact with the ground.
7) Rowing: Rowing machines are extremely simple to use and have the potential to burn as much energy as running or cycling. Vigorous rowing can significantly increase the heart rate and burn quite a lot of energy.
8) Rock climbing: Rock climbing is capable of burning almost as much energy as swimming. Rock climbing can be quite strenuous, and does involve the use of a large amount special equipment and technique. Whilst not for the faint hearted- it is a lot of fun, particularly when climbing with a partner.
When exercising, it is important to remember to set realistic expectations and to not be too hard on yourself during exercise. Refraining from doing so will ensure you have a higher chance of enjoying the exercise and will prevent you from becoming disheartened and discontinuing the exercise.
When losing weight to develop a six pack, many people will be aiming to develop and strengthen muscle simultaneously. This will have the opposite effect on weight as muscle is denser than fat and weighs more, thus this increase in muscle will negate the loss of weight through a decrease in fat.
In many cases, an individual’s weight will increase instead of decrease. This is not something to be worried about. Rather than constantly weighing yourself to determine your progress, try checking your clothing. A decrease in fat should leave your clothes feeling a little loose.